2018 IronPigs Roster Announced: Player Capsules and Photos

An annual tradition, Kram takes a look at the IronPigs opening roster, along with photos by Cheryl Pursell.

Collin Cowgill Photo: Cheryl Pursell

“Arm Strength”

The story of the 2018 Lehigh Valley IronPigs begins with pitching.  As the Phillies current philosophy of “grow pitchers, buy bats” begins to manifest throughout their farm system, this season we continue to really feel it in Allentown.  For the past two seasons, it almost felt like the opposite, as position prospects like JP Crawford, Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro and Rhys Hoskins made their way through Coca Cola Park on the way to the Major Leagues–but we did have pitching prospects like Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively.

Make no mistake, position prospects are still here.  Expect infielder Jesmuel Valentin to find his way to the Majors at some point this season, along with outfielder Roman Quinn.   They were both among the last cuts in MLB Spring Training.  HR-hitting prospect Dylan Cozens is back, too, and if things get clicking he won’t be here for long, either.

But if these piggies are going to “Oink On” into the International League playoffs for a third straight season, it will be because of pitching.  You’ll be able to see a pitching prospect start the game every single time you see the IronPigs this spring and summer.  Well, I can’t promise you that, but it might be close.  The starting rotation of Eflin, Eshelman, Anderson, Taveras and De Los Santos should be fun to watch and keep the Bacon USA squad in every single game.  The question will be whether they can hit enough, consistently, to be a playoff team.  And, how can a somewhat inexperienced bull pen hold up?  They’ve got four different left-handed options out there to begin the season.

Below, find (mostly) Cheryl Pursell photos and player capsules for the team that will take the field in P’tucket on Friday.  Of course, the only thing consistent is change–so things may even look a bit different by the time we get home on Thursday, April 12 for the home opener versus Louisville.  I’ll try to update in the comments so that you can still use this resource right through the first home stand.

 

*Prospect Rankings by Phillies Minor Thoughts

Catchers

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

C  Logan Moore  #35

Age:  27

Prospect Rank:  N/A

Last Season:  “LoMo” spent the season with the IronPigs and appeared in 64 games.  He hit .233/.310/.362.  He has been in Allentown for parts of the last three seasons.  He came up through the Phillies system and was drafted in the 9th round in 2011.

Expectations:  Despite not having a 40-man spot, it is expected that Moore will reach the Majors for the first time at some point this season when the Phillies need catching depth.  While his offensive numbers are not gaudy, he is known to give a quality at-bat, and has been known to come up with clutch hits over the past three seasons we’ve watched him.  As a lefty batter, he provides some extra value that way as well.  But all this is secondary to his defense.  He is known as the best defensive catcher in the Phillies’ system.

Little Known Fact:  Logan’s father, Brad Moore, pitched in 8 games for the Phillies in the 1988 and 1990 seasons


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

C/1B  Nick Rickles  #9

Age:  28

Prospect Rank:  N/A

Last Season:  Nick came over from the Nationals organization and joined the Reading Fightins mid-season.  He had made it to Syracuse in the IL briefly, previously.  He was promoted to the IronPigs and helped down the stretch hitting .250 at a time when the ‘Pigs needed to win every game.

Expectations:  Positional flexibility is the name of the game in the Phillies organization these days, and Nick got some long looks at 1B during the MLB-phase of spring training.  Expect to see him there periodically, as well as sharing time behind the plate backing up Logan Moore.

Little Known Fact:  Nick played for Isreal in the last WBC, and writes a blog.  You can read more about him and his family HERE.


 

Infielders

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

1B/DH/C  Matt McBride  #30

Age:  33 in May

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  McBride hit .231/.299/.434 with 10 HR for Nashville in the PCL, over 79 games.  He last appeared in the Majors in 2016 with Oakland, and last appeared in the IL in 2011 with Columbus.

Expectations:  Matt brings veteran leadership to the squad and should find at-bats at 1B, DH as well as catcher.  While Logan Moore is an excellent defensive catcher, none of the backstops are on the 40-man roster.  Should the Phillies need a catcher due to injury, McBride could provide veteran experience in that role.

Little Known Fact:  Matt was born in Bethlehem.  He went to Liberty High School and Lehigh University, majoring in Political Science.

 


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

INF/OF  Jesmuel Valentin  #3

Age:  24 in May

Prospect Rank:  32

Last Season:  “Jesse” started hot, but ended up hitting .229 for the IronPigs in 29 games last spring before a shoulder injury cost him the remainder of his season.  He came over from the Dodgers in the Roberto Hernandez trade a couple years ago.

Expectations:  Valentin narrowly missed making the Phillies as a utility player this spring.  He remains on the 40-man roster; I expect that if he plays well and stays healthy that he’ll make his MLB debut this season.

Little Known Fact:  His father, Jose, played for the Brewers, White Sox, Dodgers and Mets from 1992-2007, and remains active in baseball organization and coaching in Puerto Rico.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

1B  Joey Meneses  #38

Age:  26 in May

Prospect Rank:  N/A

Last Season:  Joey played in Mississippi, AA Braves, last season.  .292/.360/.403 with 9 HR.

Expectations:  The 6’3″ right-hander comes in as an MiLB free agent and will get his first taste of AAA baseball after coming up through the Braves organization after being signed as a free agent in 2011 by them.

Little Known Fact:  He’s from Mexico, while Hekeir is from Venezuela


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

3B Mitch Walding  #10

Age:  25

Prospect Rank:  >50

Last Season:  Had a breakout season of sorts, with Reading, hitting .236/.327/.516 with 25 home runs in 99 games.  He missed some time after a broken face suffered in a collision with catcher Chace Numata.  He did well for the ‘Pigs in the playoffs in limited opportunity.

Expectations:  While he wasn’t listed in the top 50 on most prospect lists, Mitch did receive an invite to MLB spring training this season, and didn’t look out of place.  With the dearth of 3B prospects in the Phillies upper minors–and with the ability to slug some home runs, there is opportunity here for Walding this season.  He’s not on the 40-man roster.  He did walk 44 times last season, but struck out 127 over his 99 games of service.  His goal this season will be to maintain the power numbers while improving the peripheral numbers at the plate.

Little Known Fact:  He’s from California and was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2011.  He won the 2016 Florida State League Home Run Derby while playing for the Threshers.


SS  Dean Anna  #8

Age:  31

Prospect Rank:  N/A

Last Season:  A late pickup by the Phillies, Anna had been with the White Sox and comes in via trade.  He slashed .285/.364/.376 with 5 HR lasts season in the PCL.  He was last in the IL in 2014 with Scranton and Indianapolis.

Expectations:  Anna gives the IronPigs a veteran shortstop and a reliable bat.

Little Known Fact:  The Illinois native has 23 games of MLB experience.


MiLB.com

SS  Alexi Amarista  #2

Age:  29

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  Amarista was with Colorado last season, and the Padres the five seasons before that.  He as also been with the Angels.

Expectations:  The diminutive Venezuelan was a late addition after having been released by the Detroit organization.  I’m thinking this spot was originally for Flaherty or Rosales who both opted out.

Little Known Fact:  Amarista hasn’t logged any significant time in AAA since 2011, and is a lifetime .312 hitter in the minor leagues.  He was hitting only .190 in 2018 spring training with Detroit, which may have facilitated his release.


 

Outfielders

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

OF  Andrew Pullin  #15

Age:  24

Prospect Rank:  40

Last Season:  After destroying Reading for the first 67 games last season, Pullin came to the IronPigs for the next 67 games and hit .231/.280/.412 with 6 HR.  While not glaring, strikeouts were up and walks were down in his first exposure to AAA.

Expectations:  Pullin returns with a limited profile as a left fielder.  If he can continue to exhibit control at the plate and hit for some power he could get an MLB job as a fourth outfielder.  To that end, he reminds me a little of a young Steve Susdorf.

Little Known Fact:  Pullin was drafted by the Phillies in 2012 out of high school in Washington.  In 2016 he was reported as “retired” when he had to return home to address some personal concerns.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

OF Collin Cowgill  #7

Age:  32 in May

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  The veteran Cowgill had his season limited by injuries last year and played only 58 games for AAA El Paso in the PCL, San Diego organization.  He last appeared in the Majors in 2016 with Cleveland.  He also had significant time with Columbus that season.

Expectations:  Along with McBride, Cowgill gives the IronPigs some veteran leadership–this time in the outfield.  Cowgill doesn’t steal bases like he used to, but can still play all three outfield positions, thus giving the Phillies some veteran depth in the process.  It’s possible he had an “opt-out” at some point, based on his 317 games of MLB experience.

Little Known Fact:  Cowgill was originally drafted in 2011 by Arizona, out of Kentucky.  He made his MLB debut in 2011.  He was traded to Oakland in the Trevor Cahill deal in December, 2011.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

OF  Danny Ortiz  #6

Age:  28

Prospect Rank:  N/A

Last Season:  Ortiz hit .270/.303/.457 with 15 HR for AAA Indianapolis in the Pittsburgh organization.  He made his MLB debut last season with the Pirates.

Expectations:  Ortiz adds a little power from the left side, and can play all three outfield positions with significant experience in center field.

Little Known Fact:  A native of Puerto Rico, Ortiz was originally drafted by Minnesota in the 4th round of the 2008 draft.  Folks I know from the Pittsburgh organization were disappointed to learn that he’d left as a free agent as he was a favorite on and off the field.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

OF  Dylan Cozens  #31

Age:  24 in May

Prospect Rank:  35

Last Season:  The big right fielder spent the entire campaign with the IronPigs as he slugged 27 HRs from the left side.

Expectations:  Cozens returns to improve his pitch recognition which limited his batting average to .210 last season to go along with 194 strikeouts and 58 walks in 135 AAA games.  If his consistency and peripheral batting numbers improve, expect to see him with the Phillies later this season because that power is to all fields and will play in any league in the known universe.

Little Known Fact:  Dylan was drafted by the Phillies in the second round.  He played defensive end in football and was offered a full college scholarship, which he turned down to play baseball.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

OF  Roman Quinn  #4

Age:  25 in May

Prospect Rank:  13

Last Season:  Quinn began the year with the IronPigs and played in 45 games before suffering an injury.  He was batting a respectable .274/.344/.389 prior to the injury, with 10 stolen bases.

Expectations:  Quinn was one of my favorite players to watch while he was in Reading.  He is among the fastest runners in all of baseball, causing havoc on the base-paths and bunting for hits and things of that nature.  While he is a natural center fielder, we may see him get some time at shortstop in order to maximize his flexibility for use on an MLB bench.  He should be on the Phillies at some point this season as long as he’s healthy.

Little Known Fact:  He’s from Florida, and was also drafted in the second round by the Phillies.  His middle name is Tredarian.


 

Starting Pitchers

 

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

RHP Zach Eflin  #12

Age:  24 in April

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  8 games with the IronPigs and 11 games with the Phillies.  Suffered from a sore shoulder at one point during the season.

Expectations:  Eflin was expected to challenge for the final one or two rotation spots in Philadelphia.  Now pitching on two good knees, and with a healthy arm, he was a bit inconsistent during the spring, as was passed by Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta for the Philly jobs.

Little Known Fact:  Eflin came over from San Diego, via Los Angeles, in the Jimmy Rollins deal, along with now-teammate Tom Windle


 

RHP  Thomas Eshelman  #61

Age:  24 in June

Prospect Rank:  17

Last Season:  10-3, 2.23 for the IronPigs after a quick promotion from Reading.  Only his lack of 40-man spot and the organization’s desire to keep his innings low kept him from a September call up.

Expectations:  He’s expected to be with the Phillies this season–perhaps rather quickly.  He’s a high-end control pitcher who will attack the strike zone and yield very few walks.  Expect him to try to work on missing bats while he remains in the IronPigs rotation.

Little Known Fact:  Tom came over in the Ken Giles trade with Houston, and could turn out to be the most important piece in that trade before all is said and don.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

RHP  Drew Anderson  #24

Age:  24

Prospect Rank:  24

Last Season:  Spent the entire season in Reading’s rotation, save for a quick trip to Philly–he’s on the 40-man–and a final turn in the IronPigs rotation headed into the playoffs.

Expectations:  His status on the 40-man could have him in Philly before Eshelman if they only need one or two starts, and depending on how Eflin is going.  Stay tuned–he’s right where he’s supposed to be.

Little Known Fact:  Came out of Reno, NV in the 21st round in 2012, but missed the entire 2015 season with an elbow.


LHP Cole Irvin  #33

Age: 24

Prospect Rank:  27

Last Season:  Split the season between Clearwater and Reading compiling 9-9, 3.39 along the way.

Expectations:  The Phillies have a distinct lack of left-handed starters, but some are on the way.  Irvin seems to be at the top of that list.  I had him starting in Reading to improve on consistency, but he must have shown he was ready for this spot with Taveras seemingly injured.  It’s certainly possible he could find his way to Philadelphia before this campaign is over.

Little Known Fact:  The 2016 round 5 draft pick out of Oregon has been a quick mover through the system.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

RHP  Enyel De Los Santos  #21

Age:  22

Prospect Rank:  15

Last Season:  10-6, 3.78 for AA San Antonio

Expectations:  The big righty should gather some experience in Allentown before making a bid for Philly.  He’s young, so there’s plenty of time.  His stuff looked electric in the spring training games I saw.

Little Known Fact:  He was a highly-ranked prospect in the San Diego organization who came over in the Freddy Galvis trade.


 

Relief Pitchers

 

LHP Austin Davis  #43

Age:  25

Prospect Rank:  30

Last Season:  10 games with Clearwater, 32 with Reading.  46 strikeouts to 20 walks for Reading in 47 innings.  2.87 ERA

Expectations:  The numbers look better than I remembered from seeing him play last season.  Like the other lefty, Irvin, I thought he’d be back in Reading just to start.  We’ll be looking for consistency, and keeping the walks under control, as the season begins.

Little Known Fact:  He was drafted in the 12th round in 2014 out of Cal State Bakersfield


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

RHP  Pedro Beato  #44

Age:  31

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  Our closer from last season set the IronPigs record for saves with 33 (in 35 opportunities).  He made it to the Phillies but then was immediately injured.  He returned to help us get to the playoffs.

Expectations:  The big guy returns to give the bullpen some veteran savvy and a guy who can shut down a game when needed.  He’ll once again be depth for the MLB team, although he’ll need a 40-man spot.

Little Known Fact:  Pedro was originally drafted by Baltimore in 2006


RHP  Yacksel Rios  #47

Age:  25 in June

Prospect Rank:  >50

Last Season:  After splitting his season with Reading and Allentown, made 13 appearances with Philadelphia.  In 37 minor league appearances he had a 1.37 ERA

Expectations:  Rios is on the 40-man roster and should make plenty of appearances for Philadelphia this season, one way or another.

Little Known Fact:  The native of Puerto Rico was a 12th-round pick by the Phillies in 2011.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

RHP  Ranfi Casimiro  #41

Age:  26 in July

Prospect Rank:  >50

Last Season:  Split the season between Clearwater and Reading, overall compiling a 3-7, 3.39 record in 37 games.

Expectations:  The 6’8″ hurler from the Dominican Republic is trying to take the next step.  He looked mostly solid in major league spring training.

Little Known Fact:  Casimiro is a friend and favorite of friends-of-the-blog Baseball Betsy and Baseball Ross from Clearwater.


Photo: Cheryl Pursell

LHP  Brandon Leibrandt  #37

Age:  25

Prospect Rank:  >50

Last Season:  Split his season between Reading and IronPigs, going 6-2 down the stretch in AAA to help us make the playoffs.

Expectations:  It appears the crafty lefty is moving to the bull pen.  We’ll see what his role is as the season goes along, but he could be used as a “long man” or move back into the rotation as needed.  He can throw about five different pitches, and has the ability to locate them all.

Little Known Fact:  Brandon is the youngest child of former major leaguer Charlie Leibrandt, who pitched for the Reds, Royals, Braves and Rangers and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985.


LHP  Zac Curtis  #16

Age:  26 in July

Prospect Rank:  (MLB)

Last Season:  Curtis appeared in 41 games with AA Arkansas, 3 with the Mariners and 3 with the Phillies

Expectations:  With 27 games of MLB experience–most of it with Arizona back in 2016, it’s difficult to know what Curtis really is.  We know he’s a lefty, and that he’s on the 40-man roster.  He seems poised to claim a spot in Philly should Adam Morgan or Hoby Milner falter, but will be challenged by three other lefties in the IronPigs bullpen:  Windle, Leibrandt, and Davis.

Little Known Fact:  Curtis was claimed off waivers by the Phillies last September, from Seattle.  He was originally a 6th round pick of Arizona back in 2014.


LHP Tom Windle  #27

Age:  26

Prospect Rank:  >50

Last Season:  Began as a starter for Reading in 2015, but was moved to the bull pen after some inconsistency.  Last season was 3-2, 4.24 in 36 appearances, 51.0 innings pitched.  44K/21BB

Expectations:  After spending parts of the past 3 seasons in Reading, it’s time to sink or swim for Windle, I think.  Look for effectiveness and efficiency as he continues to perfect his craft as a lefty reliever.

Little Known Fact:  Originally was a 2nd round pick of the Dodgers and came to the Phillies with Zach Eflin in the Rollins trade.


 

 

Disabled List: (not with the team)

INF Will Middlebrooks

RHP Jose Taveras

 

Printable Roster

2018 LHV Roster-3-30

 

*This roster is preliminary.  Changes will be updated in the comments below up until the home opener on April 12.

 

 



Categories: CherylPursellsPhotos, Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Tags: , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Well that didn’t take long. Just an hour or two after this post went up yesterday, RHP Pat Neshek was added to the DL for the Phillies and RHP Yacksel Rios (above) was recalled. The roster stands at 24. With no official games until Friday, I won’t speculate on what a corresponding move might be.

  2. Any more on the unrelated Meneses boys? I didn’t see anything verifying Phils were trying Joey out in AAA, and the MiLB.com roster still has Joey as a FA and Heiker on the Pigs.

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